GOVERNMENT has bemoaned the low number of women councillors in the country which is a drawback to efficient and effective service delivery to various communities.
Gender Minister Nkandu Luo said this when she officially opened this year’s Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL) third conference for women councillors in Lusaka yesterday.
In a speech read on her behalf by Ministry of Gender deputy director Simon Kapilima, Prof. Luo said despite Government creating over 1,000 wards with a view to increasing the opportunity for women to enter politics, the state of affairs in the country was not impressive as the arena was mainly dominated by men.
She said that many female politicians lacked experience which put them at a disadvantage compared to men and that there was need for women to be mentored if they were to make any meaningful strides in politics.
“I’m unsettled by the low number of female councillors in Zambia. This is because local government offers more opportunities for the election of women with a total of 1,422 wards.
“The first level of political leadership should be the sphere where female councillors acquire the necessary expertise in politics and administration. Many female politicians fail to make it because they lack experience; this is the advantage that our male colleagues have over us,” Prof. Luo said.
And ZNWL chairperson Beauty Katebe urged the Ministry of Gender to find ways of monitoring the implementation of the National Gender Policy of 2014 which she said could go a long way in facilitating women’s empowerment.
Ms. Katebe also called on Government to expedite the process of enacting the Gender Equity and Equality Bill which would further guarantee the elimination of gender discrimination in all spheres of human relations.
“We further urge Government not to relent in ensuring that gender balance is observed in all key Government appointments.
“A gender audit of the public and private sectors which we produced in 2014 revealed glaring discrepancies in the representation of women and men in decision-making positions.
“It is my hope that subsequent gender audits will project a more positive picture in both the private and public sector especially at local government level following the interventions and recommendations I have highlighted,” Ms. Katebe said.
And speaking earlier, acting United Nations (UN) resident representative Mary Otieno observed that women’s unequal access to economic resources restrict their political engagement and lower their competitiveness in the electoral process.
Dr. Otieno said political parties can assist women by sharing strategies on how to fundraise and help them raise enough money to compete on an equal playing field with male counterparts.